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murderers. There is in the first part of the Greek tragedy fomething very moving in the grief of Electra ; but, as Mr. Dacier has obferved, there is fomething very unnatural and fhocking in the manners he has given that Princefs and Oreftes in the latter part. Oreftes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the ftage, yet fo near, that the audience hear Clytemneftra crying out to Egyfthus for help, and to her fon for mercy: while Electra her daughter, and a Princess, (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency,) ftands upon the ftage, and encourages her brother in the parricide. What horror does this not raife! Clytemneftra was a wicked woman, and had deferved to die; nay, in the truth of the ftory, fhe was killed by her own fon; but to represent an action of this kind on the ftage, is certainly an offence against those rules of manners proper to the perfons, that ought to be obferved there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakspeare. Hamlet is represented with the fame piety towards his father, and refolution to revenge his death, as Oreftes; he has the fame abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heightened by inceft: but it is with wonderful art and juftnefs of judgment, that the poet rettrains him from doing violence to his mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he makes his father's Ghost forbid that part of his vengeance:

But

But howsoever thou purfu'ft this act,

Taint not thy mind, nor let thy foul contrive
Against thy mother aught; leave her to heav'n,
And to those thorns that in her bofom lodge,
To prick and fting her.

This is to distinguish rightly between horror and terror. The latter is a proper paffion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no dramatick writer ever fucceeded better in raifing terror in the minds of an audience than Shakspeare has done. The whole tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene where the King is murdered, in the second act, as well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly fpirit with which he writ; and both fhew how powerful he was, in giving the ftrongest motions to our fouls that they are capable of. I cannot leave Hamlet, without taking notice of the advantage with which we have seen this masterpiece of Shakspeare diftinguish itself upon the ftage, by Mr. Betterton's fine performance of that part. A man who, though he had no other good qualities, as he has a great many, must have made his way into the efteem of all men of letters, by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakspeare's manner of expreflion, and indeed he has ftudied him fo well, and is fo much a master of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he does it as if it had been written on purpose for him, and that the author had exactly conceived it as he plays it. I muft own a particular obligation to him, for the most confiderable

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part of the paffages relating to this life, which I have here transmitted to the publick; his veneration for the memory of Shakspeare having engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire, on purpose to gather up what remains he could, of a name for which he had fo great a veneration. *

To the foregoing Account of SHAKSPEARE'S LIFE, I have only one Paffage to add, which Mr. Pope related, as communicated to him by Mr. Rowe.

In the time of Elizabeth, coaches being yet uncommon, and hired coaches not at all in use, those who were too proud, too tender, or too idle to walk, went on horseback to any diftant business or diverfion. Many came on horseback to the play, and when Shakspeare fled to London from the terror of a criminal profecution, his firft expedient was to wait at the door of the playhouse, and hold the horfes of those that had no fervants, that they might be ready again after the performance. In this office he became fo confpicuous for his care and readiness, that in a fhort time every man as he alighted called for Will. Shakspeare, and scarcely any other waiter was trufted with a horfe while Will.

* This Account of the Life of Shakspeare is printed from Mr. Rowe's fecond edition, in which it had been abridged and altered by himself after its appearance in 1709. STEEVENS.

Shakspeare

Shakspeare could be had. This was the first dawn of better fortune. Shakspeare, finding more horfes put into his hand than he could hold, hired boys to wait under his inspection, who, when Will. Shakspeare was fummoned, were immediately to present themselves, I am Shakspeare's boy, Sir. In time Shakspeare found higher employment: but as long as the practice of riding to the playhouse continued, the waiters that held the horfes retained the appellation of, Shakspeare's boys.

JOHNSON.

DR.

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